The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has completed a massive maintenance hanger for the Nigerian military helicopters and others within the West African countries.
The Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshall Abubakar Sadique made the disclosure when he received Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State in his office at NAF Headquarters, Abuja.
Sadique said that hanger, which is located in Minna the Capital of Niger State, is aimed to become a regional hub for helicopter maintenance in partnership with the State government and other critical stakeholders.
He said that the NAF is doing its possible best to ensure that security is maintained and sustained in the state through the presence of personnels, facilities and formations.
He said: The NAF is looking at the possibility of enhancing our operations in Minna. We have a hanger that we have constructed already, which we hope that it will turn out to be a big maintenance centre for helicopters not only for the NAF, but other air forces in West African that operate the same helicopters.
“We have completed the hanger and built administrative block the aim is to make that hanger a maintenance workshop for the Helicopters. We are working towards actualising that not only with other partners but also with the Niger state government as well the Americans.”
“We also want to make sure that whatever it is that we need to do in order to enhance the general security of Niger state we will do that and that is the assurances that we have given the state governor. We believe it will have positive effect not only on security but on the economy of Niger state,” he added.
Also Governor Sani Bello said that his administration is looking to partner with the air force in the area of capacity building and security particularly around the Minna Air Port.
“We are looking at hour we can collaborate with the Nigerian air force to build capacity and look at how we can collaborate around the air port area.
“Thank God the air force has already started building a hanger there, it is almost completed if not for just one or two minor things that should be done. I am hoping that to some certain extent we are in agreement, we have some sort of partnership with the air force to make the project a success,” he said.
Speaking further, the Governor also expressed hope that the establishment of the helicopter hanger maintenance centre will not only strengthen the security of the state but will as well boost its economy.
Bello also used the opportunity to call on the Federal Government to rehabilitate and bring the Minna International Air Port up to standard and as an alternate air port to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Air Port Abuja because of its proximity to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“As governor of niger state I am excited because it will stimulate the economy of that area , a lot of small businesses can develop as a result of this partnership.
“We have the intention if we agree with the federal government to put the airport into proper use, even if it is to put a cargo terminal, I believe there are potential at the air port, it’s an alternative air port to Abuja international air port. It’s not an airport to be ignored and it should be given the attention it deserves to perform as an international airport,” he said.
The governor also raised some security concerns about the state the details of which he said, “have been discussed with the air force”.